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tv   The Moment in Time  CSPAN  August 15, 2015 8:00am-9:01am EDT

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afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span3. coming up on american history tv, the cold war. next, real america with the 1964 army a film about exercise delawar, a joint u.s.-iran armed forces operation to prevent the soert soviet invasion of iran. later, post war sold >> 70 years ago on july 16, 1945. the first atomic bomb was tested near los alamos, new mexico. and a few weeks later, atomic bombs were dropped on hiroshima and nagasaki, japan. next on "reel america," "the moment in time." the manhattan project. a coproduction from the year
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2000, which tells the story of the race to create the bomb. this hour-long documentary includes interviews with some of the key manhattan project scientists and technicians. >> things change in time. in a moment in time in 1945, everything changed. the desert of central new mexico, in area called the journey of death, named by spanish can keep the doors -- conquistadors because if you ran out of water here, you did not survive. this place is now known as trinity site. in a moment in time at the spot in july, 1945, things changed. in the instant of what happened here, the length of a war changed, along with the course of history.
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it began years before, and thousands of miles away. >> [drum procession] >> four years, adolf hitler had forced the influence of n -- nazi rule on europe. to the rest of the free world, his intentions were war and totality was his method. populations were sent in motion. >> i came from hungary and germany. i have seen many things firsthand. i was deathly afraid about my family and all my friends. and i do not believe that people today realize how tremendous those dangers had been. because hitler, indeed, could have taken over the world. and with our last breath, do so.
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those of us who came from europe, -- were more aware of that than native american families. >> it came in stages. and from very early on, jews were arrested and put in concentration camps. certainly, the loss of jobs was -- and kept getting worse. so i think there was no question that i should emigrate. >> there were other scientists from the best universities and scientific institutions in europe seeking to also get away. when they fled, they brought with them an international relationship of friendships and acquaintances, along with research they had been doing on relatively new fields, that of nuclear fission.
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it had been discovered in germany in 1938 and was in emerging field that promised massive -- an emerging field that promised massive amounts of energy. but there was also the thought that it could deliver that energy as a bomb. >> and we knew that there were a number of competent physicist and chemists -- physicists and chemists. that made is really concerned that we might -- [indiscernible] be too late. >> the world war just began four months earlier, so we knew it was going to develop into a terrible world war. and this coming at that time seemed to the fitful proof that it was. -- seemed the fateful we immediately sought no one's mind was on anything except this. >> it was this concern that led refugee german physicist leo to
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reveal that possibility to the u.s. government. together with albert einstein and edward teller, he composed a letter to president franklin roosevelt. it told of a terrible possibility: germany had the research and the knowledge to design a nuclear weapon. delivering the letter was alexander sachs, a friend and economic advisor to the president. roosevelt said, alex, what you are after is to see that the nazis do not blow us up. precisely, he said, this require action. intelligence reports from europe indicated the nazis were working on such a weapon, but knowing you how much effort they were -- no one knew how much effort they were devoting to it. the one certainty was that if hitler developed the bomb, he would win the war. the letter to roosevelt paved the way for the creation of a
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top secret military project, one that would have the highest priority and titus security. -- and tightest security. it would be named, the manhattan military engineering district. >> when finally we began to do something, in participating in the war effort, it was a relief. >> the project was massive. to design and build a device that existed only in theory from material that didn't exist in any quantity under unprecedented secrecy by people, many of whom were not even u.s. citizens, it it was known that the nucleus of one form of uranium, isotope 235, which split when it absorbed a neutron. when this happened, energy was released and more neutrons were crated that struck and split other nuclei. when it happens continuously, it is known as a chain reaction. no one new at the start how much material was needed to support an explosive chain reaction. that volume would be known as
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the critical mass. another element, only discovered in late by a particular nuclear 1941 chemist, also had the properties to explode in a chain reaction under the right conditions. he named it for the ninth planet from the sun, plutonium. >> the isotope we produced was plutonium 238. produced by the due to run bombardment of uranium. then a month later, we identified in this room the isotope of importance, plutonium 239. and isolated it so that it could be -- have its vision properties measured -- fision properties measured. at the 37 and cyclotron. >> general leslie groves had just completed a major project, the construction of the pentagon. it had been his desire to accept a combat excitement --
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assignment overseas. -- the secretary of war has selected him for an important assignment in washington. he was appointed at the head of the manhattan project. >> he is a very difficult man to some up, but the same thing appealed to him that i think -- is a norm is devotion, determination to get the war over, to do what he could. >> and italian physicist working with him in a space underneath university of chicago stadium assembled a large pile of graphite blocks with lumps of natural uranium in it. in december 1942, he succeeded in bringing about the first man-made controlled nuclear chain reaction. now that controlled fision have been accomplished, it could be studied. in the next steps could proceed. robert oppenheimer was a
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respected theoretical physicist in 1942. he had been closely examining the development of fision science. he was at the university of chicago when growth came through -- when groves came through on his first inspection tour. in conversations with groves, he discussed the need for a central facility and other details. grow saw something in him, in leadership, and it understanding of what was needed to be done. >> when i became a graduate student at berkeley, his aptitude for brilliant and clear explanation was very strong. and easily able to crush a question or objection. >> oppenheimer was a difficult human being. he was extremely intelligent. extremely quick. he understood everything when i
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had just reached of what was -- a glimpse of what was being talked about. groves selected him to be the >>groves selected him to be the project leader. he came to the project with an immediate concern. his security was question because of college acquaintances with communism. >> in the time before the war, he had been very leftish. >> grove overrode all objections and stayed with it. >> no one thought he would undertake such a task. it is amazing that grove would have done that. i began realizing that they were very different persons. they both had intense determination, and that is what i think what over -- won over grove. once you could see he was determined to get it as best he could.
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>> grove wanted to compartmentalize each of the different divisions. --- oppenheimer held weekly colloquium's to exchange -- colloquiums to exchange information. to solve problems. oppenheimer insisted that everybody should be present. >> the new lab would be devoted to experiment and engineering. he was a theorist. >> to me, the theory is the explanation of the observations. putting them in a framework that convinces us, yes, we do know how a star works. we do know how a supernova explodes. but every single bit of physics that goes into understanding our universe has first been tested out right here on planet earth.
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and that is what makes -- what an experimentalist does. they are not laws that congress can repeal, i assure you. >> the best scientific talent in the country, and even from outside the country, would be working at what is known as site y. but where? it would have to be in a remote and sparsely populated locale. at least 200 miles from a coastline or international boundary for safety from attack. room for explosive testing. weather good enough for construction to proceed year-round. and enough housing to accommodate the first group of scientists. major john dudley of the manhattan engineering district found an ideal location in oak city in south-central utah. but there were too many residents and too much farmland that would be evicted. oppenheimer was no stranger to the southwest. has family had a vacation cabin in northern new mexico.
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in the pecos wilderness. the next prospect was springs, new mexico. oppenheimer and gross drove there to have a look -- groves drove there to have a look. they both have the same opinion. oppenheimer remembered a place he had been by while on a pack trip and had returned often as a visitor. it was a boy's school at a place called los alamos. in the late afternoon, they drove there. the students and their masters were out on the playing field and a light snow was falling. this is it, groves said. located on the eastern slope of the mountains, los alamos had some homesteaders and the los alamos ranch school. it was the dream of an extra roosevelt rough rider named ashley pond. it was a school for the sons of wealthy families that was based on a vigorous life. students wore shorts year-round and slept in on heated sleeping porches. each student was assigned a
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horse to care for and pack trips into the mountains were had now, it'sool spent its time in the late 20's but now, it's time was coming to an end. school officials started noticing low-flying planes studying the area. cars and military vehicles appeared on the crest of the road. on december 4, 1942, the school received a notice from henry stenson, secretary of war, that the school was being taken over. proceedings were used and it was decreed all records of the acquisition be sealed from public view. almost 54,000 acres were acquired, almost a 9000 acres were public land. the cost of acquisition was >> $440,000. after pearl harbor, we all knew that we were kind of playing it and game -- an end game. we get out of school, we are off to war. so in the beginning of the fall of 1942, where -- with already
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surveyors around here from the government, then they took it over. absolutely fantastic construction in a very short length of time. when you're the school would be taken over. we didn't know just when. >> construction crews started throwing up buildings for administrations, laboratories, housing, schools, and every thing as a community needed. it looked more like a boom town than a wartime army camp. all mushrooming around the ranch school. >> so towards the end of this, just before christmas, these two dudes show up in a calling themselves mr. smith and mr. jones. the first one wearing a pork pie and the second one a fedora. no way i am mr. smith and mr. jones. who were they? it took just two hours to know that this was oppenheimer and lawrence. and recall them by those names among us kids because we knew
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them so well from our physics courses and things like that. we recognize their pictures. >> classwork was exhilarated and interpreting 1943, the last graduation was held. new roads of unpaved streets started to define the new community. in january of 1943, the university of california was selected to operate a new laboratory. recruiting scientists was difficult because prospective employees were already doing important work and needed good reason to change their jobs. because of security, only scientific personnel could be told anything about the nature of the work. but day were to tell no one about what they did, not even their families. 15 miles southeast of santa fe. in the spring of 1943, this data
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-- they started to arrive at the small railroad station -- they started to arrive at a small railroad station that looked like it was in the middle of nowhere. arriving from all parts of the country and europe with the best scientific minds in the world. e, niels bohr, edward teller, otto fish, richard simon, edward mcmillan. some came as consultants and the rest as permanent staff. santa fe, new mexico. to those who came into town on route from across the country, it was hard to see the small town as the state's capital. first up was in office at 109 east palace avenue, run by dorothy, it was the welcome and for all those who came to check in disappear on the plateau. she arranged for transportation, housing, and hundreds of other little things that took away some of the apprehension of things to come.
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one wife said, i felt akin to the pioneer women accompany their women -- husbands across the uncharted plains westward, alert to dangers, resigned to the fact that they journeyed into the unknown. >> after leaving santa fe, the dirt road up to the site was rough, even for that day. once they crossed the bridge across the rio grande, they climbed up a steep road to the stop of the -- to the top of the mersa. once they made it in, it was a different world. >> it was a pretty desolate place. -- the living quarters were just being built and the one thing that was beautiful was the view on the other side. everything on the los alamos plateau was in the midst.
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>> and my wife and son came to her three three weeks later. i stayed in the big house. -- but apart from that, of course, the surroundings -- i knew they were magnificent. >> it was wartime and it struck me as being a military camp. i felt right at home. of course, famous europeans who i had never met were quite, and walked about. >> the british were part of the project. they arrived as part of a mission to help work on the about. -- on the bomb. for family apartment houses spread to the west and north. barracks and dormitories, huts and trailers, everyone was a transplant from somewhere else.
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because of the mission, because of everything else on the hill, it became a tightknit community of scientists, spouses, children, and military personnel. most people were in the 20's or 30's. the average age was 25. they were healthy and middle class. there was no unemployment. what you did at the lab dictated your social standing, as well as the quality of your housing. >> from our point of view, it was wonderful. we never had a better place to live. the first place, there were plenty of food, meat. these were the days of rationing. a lot of people there had really miserable times in their apartments, which were cheap and rather shoddy. to the disappointment of many of the europeans, they also did not have laptops. -- bathtubs. you always knew when your neighbors were having a party. >> some senior lab officials
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lived in homes previously used by the schoolmasters. it became known as bathtub row, since they were the only places that had them. in april 1943, oppenheimer assembled the staff, than about 30, for a series of introductory lectors -- lectures to some of the studies of the weapons from the previous summer in berkeley. it also incorporated research done on fision over the past year. it was determined that explosive means would do the job. by taking a subclinical mass and making it critical to the radioactive material would detonate. 2 methods to do that have -- had been devised. it was discovered the gun method would work with uranium, but not with plutonium. >> with plutonium, there was spontaneous fision and that reduced neutrons all the time.
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-- produced neutrons all the time. at a sufficiently high rate that if you had a gun assembly in shooting two pieces together, before they got together begin -- big enough to have a big explosion, they would so-called pre-detonate. >> it was a stupid way of assembly that we made fun of. it gave us the idea of the implosion which in the and turned -- end turned out to be the way to do it. >> said in the, the top priority really shifted over to the plutonium. >> the gun method was the easiest, but the science of implosion would have to be developed. it are quite science and engineering that would enable sign -- simultaneous compression of plutonium. the plutonium weapon would also have to be tested. nothing like this had ever been created. it would be months before the first significant amount of nuclear material would be delivered.
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before that could happen, there were many questions which came down to the central problem, how to make the material, the uranium 235 or plutonium 239, release their energy efficiently at the right time in a casing and airplane could deliver? one of the biggest problems with extracting u-235 from u-238. a gas diffusion method was used with thousands of miles of piping and hundreds of acres of barriers were used to produce the metal. also used were an electromagnetic separation and thermal diffusion method to reduce and refine their material. 18 had also been assembled in oak ridge implied thousands of workers and at team had also been assembled in chicago to devise a method for extracting plutonium. washington was elected as the location to build reactors or
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its extraction. -- for its its extraction. but they depended as much on chemical separation as it did on the reactors. the chemistry was glenn haas -- -- massively -- -- glenn's. > we had been working with what >> we had been working with what you call trace amounts detected by its radioactivity. but we could introduce the -- we could not d deuce the chemical properties with certainty that way. we needed to work with actual label amounts -- weighable amounts. igable why we produced we amounts of plutonium. that meant we had to work -- i say, we, the chemists working with me -- on what we call an ultra micro chemical scale. >> in september 1944, the materials started coming to los alamos. for those in los alamos who were not part of the project, life continued in -- continued.
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babies born at the labs had the same address as their place of birth. it was the address on driver's licenses, bank accounts, ration coupons, and insurance policies. los alamos was an army post. one that had more civilians than military personnel. in the first year, 80 babies were born. by 1945, there were over 300 infants at the site. the births got to be so much of a concern to general groves, he almost ordered oppenheimer to stop the population's motion. -- explosion. the population doubled every nine months. housing would always be short, water scarce and electricity intermittent. the threat of structure fire was always in the back of everyone's mind. then there was security. residents could not travel more than 100 miles from los alamos. if you ran into a friend on the
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outside, you had to give a detailed report to security. famous names were disguised. occupations were never mentioned. everyone was an engineer. the word physicist was for bid in. all mail was censored. all long-distance calls were monitored. which was easy, since there was only one phone line in 1943. in 1945, there were three. the entire project was surrounded by high barbed wire fences and patrolled by mounted guards. workweeks were six days, 12 to 14 hour days were normal. saturday nights, they party. they were big and small and an integral part of life on the mesa. >> the young people had many parties and we would tend to go to a dinner with six people. what you do in any university town. >> single men and women scheduled for parties that were fueled by next years of next the
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desk mixtures of mixed liquors and grain alcohol. the furniture was pushed back for dancing and parties often lasted well into the night. >> they had a square dance i don't know, once every -- maybe once a month or twice a month. >> picnics, went to the mountains, went to the ruins, sometimes even went to santa fe if we could afford the gas. and so on. it was a good time. it was an intense time. we all worked 60 hour weeks and we worked on saturday. by rule, so to speak. by routine. sunday was the only day off. >> the work, governed by the urgency of events waged on the battlefield in europe and in the pacific, never got easier. but those working on the bomb thought they had the science. it was the engineering that created the problems. >> i think that this arose partly due to the circumstances, it is how difficult it was. what a feat it was.
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some of that is self-serving. the scientists like to say it was difficult, and it looked difficult, but it wasn't very difficult. >> i entirely agree on this point. it was engineering. >> work on the gun type weapon moved ahead, but work on the implosion weapon was slow, frustrating, and seemingly hopeless. detailed quantitative data on the effects of such a new weapon was needed. knowing exactly how powerful the weapon would be. -- no one knew exactly how powerful the weapon would be. in late 1943, planning for the test had begun. -- in late 1943, planning for the test had begun. it was 210 miles south of los alamos, 27 miles from the nearest town, and 12 miles from the nearest inhabitant. in november 19 44, construction of the base camp began. the test was initially scheduled
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for july 4. the activity at the test site increased, despite things like snakes, scorpions, heat, and dust. herds of antelope started to disappear, showing up on the menu. hunting often took place with the aid of submachine guns. on april 12, 1945, president franklin roosevelt died. flags across the country and around the world flew at half staff. including the flag at the test site named trinity by oppenheimer. sworn into taken leadership of the country was then vice president harry truman. less than a month later, on may 8, the war in europe, which had been raging since 1939, and it -- ended with the surrender of the german forces. the race to beat hitler in building an atom bomb was at an end.
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>> i was as worried about the u.s. government developing a nuclear weapon. there had been no major intelligence efforts to find out the extent of their progress during the war. as the allies advanced into germany, a team of paramilitary operators searched for evidence of a german nuclear effort. among their finds, germany could not have an atomic bomb and was not likely to have had had one anytime soon. but there was still the war in the pacific against the japanese. work at los alamos continued. the seth and other explosive experts have been laboring to discover the nature of creating a symmetrical implosion. lenses were created. explosive lenses that would focus the shockwaves inward to compress the sub critical mass to critical. near los alamos, high explosives were mixed to form a cocoon of his mobile -- of fisionable material. the explosives had been cooled
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just right to prevent air bubbles. which would interfere with the detonation. the lenses required precision casting with machine finishing. tolerances for the 100 or so pieces had to fit together within a few thousands of an inch. still fell behind schedule. things the test date was moved back. in order to accurately calibrate the instrumentation for the test, another test, or using only high explosives, was needed. a dress rehearsal of 100 tons of tnt was planned for. hundreds of crates of high explosives were stacked on a platform of a 20 foot tower. tubes of low-level nuclear material with scattered throughout the explosives to simulate the radioactive products of a nuclear blast. everything was set to a scale to match the expected effects of the nuclear test shot.
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on may 7, the high explosive was detonated. the orange fireball was seen 60 miles away. but what if the real test was unsuccessful? the material might be lost from the detonation of the high explosive surrounding it. the decision was made early on to contain any misfire inside a huge steel vessel. it was 25 feet along, 12 feet in diameter, 14 inches x, and wade 214 times. it was called jumbo. by the time it was delivered, though, production of the material had increased and there was greater confidence in the success of the bomb. use of jumbo was canceled. instead, it was hung from a tower 800 yards from ground zero. a senior scientist started a betting pool. on the yield. >> i bet on the number that they had predicted, maybe eight kilotons.
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>> 45,000 tons, his bat. -- was his bat. >> i bet i was the only one who lost the pool because i bet too high. [laughter] practically everybody else but too low. >> norman. low. -- norman bet low. >> i bet zero and i think that was the most intelligent because it included not only zero, but the first wi-fi generations of neutrons. -- first generation -- first 35 generations of neutrons. it's and angst been intentionally growing things -- it's an exponentially growing thing. i had the best chance of winning statistically. >> i think it gives you a bit of a quantitative assessment how very doubtful we had been at that time. and, you know, i cannot see into the souls of other people. i was very much impressed.
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-- interested if not worried what what happened. >> los alamos started sending down those who need to be at this test site. there was a nagging uncertainty on whether the bomb would work at all. in a meeting before the test, a description of all that was known about the bomb, and what wasn't. overruled fernd i mi and that's a dangerous thing to do because he was almost always right. but we overruled him, so i felt uncertain for that reason. >> very often, we kept saying, maybe they will come across some obstacle which prevents it from working. you can easily imagine those things. for example, a little delay in a -- in the emission of fast
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neutrons. >> they would know only if the gadget detonated. three areas were of prime importance. first, impose and studies. -- implosion studies and the release of nuclear energy in the form of gamma rays. second was damage measurement head and third was blast effect. -- and third was blast effect. reinforced shelters had been built at 10,000 yards north, west, and south of ground zero for cameras to record and scientists to observe the blast. one camera would shoot color. the rest, black and white. besides running at normal speed, some would be running as fast as 8000 frames per second. >> it would take pictures and then it would pass into a steel cable that could be used to pull those cameras out of that area, which would be too radioactive to go in at all at that time. >> on july 7, bradbury, who is
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group leader for bomb assembly, begin putting the components through loading tests in los alamos. by the following thursday, the 12th, assembly of the high explosives sphere began at this site. the next day, the px ambled -- the preassembled explosive unit left for trinity site. they were now working against time, along with everyone else still at los alamos. 250 men were already there. by now, plutonium delivered to los alamos had been shaped into hemispheres. on july 11, they made the trip to trinity, along with other components in the back seat of a well guarded sedan. >> i remember being afraid of the fast driving and woman who would go with us in the convoy. it was a very high-speed pedal to the floor all the way driver. that was the scariest thing. >> at ground zero, a 100 foot prefabricated steel tower had been built.
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it was braced for an electric winch to how the gadget to a -- to haul the gadget to an oak platform at the top. on friday, july 13, starting at 9:00 a.m., the pit was assembled in a sealed and thoroughly cleaned room near ground zero. at the mcdonald ranch. before assembly began, a receipt was signed for the plutonium. value -- at least several hundred million dollars. at the moment the receipt was signed, this test shifted to military control. though the number of parts were few, if somebody took several -- assembly took several hours and then the core was then taken to the tower. final assembly of the bomb began in a canvas tent at the base of the tower. there were a few moments of when the core did not fit in the center of the device. but once the temperature equalized, the pit slipped smoothly into place. the next day, the tent was removed and a gadget, with its
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core, was wasted to the top of the tower. -- wasted to the top of the tower. only the detonators had not been installed. the openings where they would be inserted gave the bond a bandaged look. >> we made measurements of that thing every few hours to see if it was behaving properly. because it was the first time it had been left out of the laboratory for any length of time. so somebody was there and somebody in my group had to climb up and measure something every few hours. >> the weather, still a concern, starting to turn dark with thunder and lightning as test day arrived. it started to rain. would the test be able to go on? >> very, july 16 -- hard to sleep, very hard to get your mind off of all the things that could go wrong did but we were consumed in the job, especially this crucial one to see if this whole idea would work. and what was in everyone's mind --
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>> everyone was extremely excited to see if it would turn out to be that way because no one really knew whether the thing would work or not. >> by 2:00 a.m., the weather started to look better. the shot was postponed until 5:30. at 4:00 a.m., the rain stopped. at 4:45, an updated weather reports came in showing improved conditions. the test was a go for 5:30. at 5:09:45, the master switches were unlocked. after viewing sites around trinity, everyone was told to lie facedown with their feet towards the blast and close and cover their eyes. >> we were given those classes -- glasses so we wouldn't be blind. -- welders glasses not to be blinded. i took the glasses in addition
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to -- [indiscernible] the welders glasses. then i put some ointment on my face. and then i put on gloves. to be protected against all eventualities. >> they didn't allow many people, but they did allow me -- and i looked with one eye, i couldn't look with both eyes. so i was looking with just one eye. >> the three of us, one of the other people with us was can, who went to cornell -- ken, who went to cornell. he was in the explosive division. and he was next to robbie on one side, i guess. yeah, next to him. and -- robbie was really getting quite excited. and he was very relaxed. robbie said, i too going to get excited?
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he said, no. he had been doing a lot of work with explosives. and he was fairly calm. and robbie said, tell me when you get excited. >> general groves had thoughts of his own. >> the quiet grew more intense. as i lay there, i thought of what i would do if the countdown got to zero and nothing happened. >> at the control point, the general wrote -- >> be seen inside the shelter was dramatic beyond words. it can be safely said that most everyone was praying. oppenheimer grew tenser as the seconds ticked off. he scarcely >> at 45 second, the breathed. >> at 45 second, the automatic timer was started. the test was now out of man's control. one physicist, who is normally equal headed one, changed his mind. >> -30 seconds, -15 seconds, he said, i'm excited.
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>> 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. >> [bomb explosion] >> in the dead silence of the morning, the area was bathed in an intense flash of a light that man had only seen from the stars. >> most experiences in life can be cover headed by previous experience. -- can be comprehended by previous experience but the atom bomb did not fit into any preconception possessed by anybody. >> the light from the blast was the one place where theoretical calculations had been way off. in the instrument bunker at 10,000 north, one scientist was cut off guard. >> then i realized that the ball of fire was moving up, so i grabbed the controls of the camera and turned the camera up.
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and so you see it abruptly, it it just suddenly jerks up. >> i was looking straight at the bright spot that appeared at a very small point of light. and my first impression was, i very distinctly remember, is that all? >> the mountains were like the sun had just risen. >> and then i started to see the point rising and spreading, i did take off the glasses. by that time, i knew it was big. i twisted the glasses and looked down at the sand behind me. 6:00 a.m., barely light. as i looked down at the sand, it was like you are lifting the curtain in a darkened room.
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>> before i, hand up to start adjusting the goggles, i felt something that i didn't know -- i hadn't been smart enough to interpret to figure out what was going to happen. it was a cool desert morning. the sun had not quite come up. the air was still. it had that curious chill of a hot place, which cools down over the day. and suddenly on that cold background, the heat of the sun came to me before the sun rose. it was the heat of the bond. -- it was the heat of the bomb. not the light. but the heat was the first thing i could feel. >> oppenheimer, standing next to his brother, robert, wrote -- >> and there was this sense of an ominous cloud hanging over us. it was a brilliant purple with all the radioactive glowing and it just seemed to hang there for ever. of course, it didn't.
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it must have been a very short time until it went up. it was very terrifying. and the thunder from the blast, it doused on the rocks and then it went, i don't know where else it bounced, but it never seemed to stop. not like an ordinary echo with thunder. it just kept echoing back and forth. it was very scary time when it went off. and i wish i would remember what my brother said, but i can't. but i think we just said, it worked. i think that is what we both said, both of us. it worked. >> at 4:00 a.m. overlooking albuquerque, groups of people who had driven their up the winding dirt road thought the test had failed with nothing happened. those who stayed were amazed by what they saw. >> the world would not be the same. two people laughed. two people cried.
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most people were silent. i remember the line from the scripture -- was trying to persuade the prince that he should do his duty. and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and test, i am the death, the destroyer of worlds. i suppose we all thought that one way or another. >> the explosion caused excitement around the state. wire services were swamped with inquiries and the army was prepared. three weeks before the test, a release had been prepared and sent to the headquarters of the bombing range. it stated that an ammunition
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dump in a remote part of the range filled with high explosives, gas shells, and pyrotechnics had exploded. weather conditions affecting the content of gas shells exploded by the blast may make it desirable for the army to temporarily evacuate some civilians from their homes. not long after sunrise, what was left of the cloud had started to dissipate. there was concern that the radiated dust and debris from the blast would fall onto neighboring communities. at a few locations, detectors showed rises in radioactivity. but they dropped quickly. oppenheimer returned to base camp from 10,000 south. >> when he came back, there he was with his hat. you have seen pictures of robert's hat. he came to where we were and his walk was, like, i knew. i think that is the best i could describe it. -- high noon. this kind of stretched -- strut. he had done it.
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>> he looked very relieved, as to be expected. after all, it had worked. and the test was over. -- and the tension was over. >> later in the morning, sammy and herbert anderson. what surgical scrubs and rode into tanks to ground zero -- in two tanks to ground zero. anderson went on and surveyed the bomb's crater through a peer scope. the 100 foot tower had been paper rise. -- vaporized. all that remain worthy twisted stumps at the footing, which were anchored 20 feet into the ground. covering the ground was a green grass like substance. it would later be called trinitite. the bomb blast was estimated at 21 kilo tons. the bet in the pool was 19 kilotons. he won.
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there was still a great deal of work to be done. >> we went up to los alamos and the interesting thing about that was the collapse of security in the -- in the dining halls. that evening. because everyone was exchanging experiences about the explosion. where they saw it from, were it was, and so on. >> in yugoslavia, president truman and british prime minister to chill her meeting -- churchill were meeting with joseph stalin to decide how to end the war in the pacific. it was not their preference to include russia unless absolutely necessary. >> we were very -- to hear that -- interested to hear whether truman had asked stalin about
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our test, we were told, yes, truman had mentioned it and stalin had reacted -- he did not comment. >> because he already knew. >> he already knew. >> after the successful test at trinity, the man who began what became the manhattan project was concerned that the weapon, which was made to stop hitler, should not be used. he and other scientists felt it should be demonstrated to japan to encourage them to surrender. he started a petition among the scientists to appeal to the president to consider alternative plans. >> even before the test, sometime i believe and of june -- end of june, i got a letter from a very good friend.
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whom i had driven to see einstein at the time and he signed the letter that got things going. and he had circulated a petition. that the bomb should not be dropped. before the japanese were notified. may i at least cited and circulated? -- circulate it? i wanted to sign it. but i felt i could not circulate it without showing it to oppenheimer. but i did. and oppenheimer was very excited. we scientists have one job, to solve the technical problems. we don't know anything about the japanese, we don't know anything about politics, we should shut
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up about all those things. now, i had strong feelings about it and i wanted to sign it and i wanted to circulated, but on the other hand, what oppenheimer said made a sense and he also had tremendous prestige with everybody, including me. i did not sign the letter. >> oppenheimer and others -- came together in a meeting and -- and decided they did not know any other way to use the weapon effectively. and i retrospectively -- i
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agreed at the time that it should be dropped. and i agree even more today. >> you definitively one week later, when kenny gave his lecture on the bomb at the colloquium on the thursday afternoon after the monday -- again, would probably end the war. >> but by then, the die was cast. the bomb was under control of the military and the targets had been selected. >> we are now prepared to destroy more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the japanese have in any city. we shall destroy their docs, their factories -- docks, their factories, and the communications. let there be no mistake, we shall completely destroy japan's power to make war. they must spare the japanese
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people from ultimate destruction. their leaders rejected the ultimatum. from pottstown. if they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. >> a few hours before dawn on july 16, while the scientists at trinity site waited for the test, the primary components of the gun type uranium weapon were being wasted aboard the indianapolis. -- wasted aboard the cruiser indianapolis. the ship set sail. for the pacific. a few weeks later, on august 6, 1945, a b-29 named enola gay took off in the early morning hours. just after 8:00 a.m., it dropped the weapon named little boy. over the japanese city of hiroshima. >> ♪
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♪ >> three days later, another mission carrying the plutonium implosion weapon named fat man detonated over nagasaki. >> ♪ ♪ >> a few weeks later, the war ended with the japanese surrender on the battleship missouri in tokyo bay. world war ii was over. >> let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and let god will preserve it always.
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these proceedings are closed. >> ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this weekend, politics, books and american history. live from the i was state fair, presidential candidates speak at the candidate soapbox. today at noon, republican rick santorum and democrats lincoln chafee and senator bernie sanders. sunday afternoon, more live coverage from the i was take there with republican candidates then carson followed by georgepataki. tonight, claire mccaskill on her
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life and political career and sunday morning at 10:30 a.m., the recent book "america." on c-span three, sunday morning with a clock in eastern, many presidential candidates visiting the i was state fair, we will learn about history and tradition as a stop on the road to the white house of a look back at the 2008 presidential race. today at 6:00 on the civil war, historian and author on the 1864 battle of mobile bay, the resulting union victory and closing of one of the confederacy plus last ports. get our complete schedule at c-span.org. "q&a."nday night on on u.s. foreign policy since 9/11 and the recent negotiations with iran and the war on terrorism. >> who is isis and why are they
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so violent? these questions are important and i dressed them in the book but what's more important in some ways because of something we can do something about is what is the u.s. policy regarding isis and why isn't it working? can we really go to war against terrorism? are we doing the war wrong or should there be a war against terrorism? those are the questions that are the most important and will be the most useful. . >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on "q&a." taft made helen several notable changes to the house. the most obvious was replacing the white male ushers with african-american staff and she let in ever to raise funds to create a memorial for victims of the titanic. her greatest legacy was bringing thousands of japanese cherry blossom trees to the nations capital.
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helen taft, the sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on our original series, "first ladies, influence and image." from martha washington to michelle obama, >> born and raised in the west indies, compared to the other founding fathers, little is known about the early life of alexander hamilton. next on american history tv, author michael newton discusses his book, "alexander hamilton: the formative years." mr. newton talks about his research process and how hamilton's early experiences prepared him to become one of the most important and influential of the founding fathers. ic

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